WWE Week in Review, March 15: Daniel Bryan Gets His Wish, Big Show Dominates
With WrestleMania 30 only mere weeks away, the card for The Show of Shows starting taking shape this past week on Monday Night Raw. The WWE Universe has already been treated to plenty of surprises thus far, but what more does WWE have in store for their fans in the weeks ahead?
After weeks of begging, Daniel Bryan was finally granted his wish of facing Triple H at WrestleMania in addition to a possible spot in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match that same night. How many more obstacles will Bryan have to overcome before he goes one-on-one with The Game at the premiere pay-per-view?
Big Show has been on unstoppable streak since returning to the ring last week, scoring victories on both Raw and SmackDown in the last seven days. However, where will The World Largest Athlete fall on the WrestleMania card?
The Shield were successful in every match they were involved in this week, showing no signs of dissension. Now united more than ever before, will The Shield rebel against The Authority going into 'Mania?
I will break down the week in wrestling by analyzing all of WWE's weekly programs and occasional pay-per-views, including each show's highlights, low points and other noteworthy, monumental moments. Also, I will give an award to the show and Superstar that shined the brightest over the course of the week.
Match of the Week: AJ Lee vs. Natalya: Main Event, March 11
There were several matches that occurred over the last week that could have won this award, but I thought it would only be appropriate to give the nod to the Divas Championship match between AJ Lee and Natalya from the latest edition of WWE Main Event. Let's face it: I don't have faith that a Divas match will ever again be among the top matches of the week, so there's no better time for it to earn this award than now.
It's no secret that AJ and Natalya have great chemistry together and they definitely showcased it during the clash on Tuesday night. In fact, it was reported that not only was it the longest match ever contested for the Divas title, but also the longest women's title match in WWE since 1987.
If any two women deserved that honor, it was undoubtedly Natalya and AJ. The crazed Diva successfully defended her gold, but it seems that Natalya's title chase is far from over.
Here's hoping the rejuvenation of Main Event will feature more matches like this one going forward.
Superstar of the Week: Big Show
While I still may not be his biggest fan, there's no doubt that Big Show has been pretty impressive since returning to the ring last week on SmackDown. Upon his comeback, Show resumed his rivalry with The Authority and hasn't looked since.
On Raw, Show teamed with Daniel Bryan in the main event to take on WWE World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton and Batista in tag team action. The dynamic duo of Bryan and Show picked up the win after Bryan pinned Orton.
Then, Show invaded the blue brand's main event days later, decimating the Director of Operations, Kane. The question now is where Show fits into the WrestleMania 30 card.
With an Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal recently announced, that match sounds like it was tailor-made for Show.
Show of the Week: Monday Night Raw, March 10
Since the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, WWE has been delivering quality programming every Monday night and the latest episode of Raw was no exception. It may not have had the hot crowd of Chicago that last week's show had, but it definitely featured several solid segments and matches throughout the night.
From the returns of Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker to Daniel Bryan occupying Raw to a strong Street Fight between Sheamus and Christian, there wasn't a whole lot not to like about this show. With WrestleMania 30 only three weeks away, it was crucial of WWE to start building up the card for the event and took a step in the right direction by adding another three matches to The Show of Shows and even altering another.
The product still may not be perfect, but it is certainly in significantly better shape than it was a mere month ago. I look forward to what else WWE has in store for upcoming editions of Raw and beyond as 'Mania draws closer.
This Week's Highlights
It was pretty obvious that the Daniel Bryan fans who swarmed the ring on Monday night were plants, but it still made for a cool visual. While Bryan was good in his role, I really looked at The Authority as the MVPs of this segment. Their performances were spectacular and better than anything they've done since they turned heel in August. It's great that it's finally been confirmed that Bryan will (potentially) involved in not one but two marquee matches at WrestleMania 30 and I look forward to him closing the show celebrating his WWE World Heavyweight Championship victory.
Hulk Hogan announcement
I like the idea of a multi-man battle royal being held at WrestleMania if only because it gets everyone on the card. It may feel like a throwaway match to some, but at least they attempted to make it meaningful by dedicating it to the memory of Andre the Giant. Hogan being the one to announce it also made it feel more special.
Sheamus vs. Christian
Yes, it's a match we've seen multiple times in the last month or so, but they always deliver in the ring and produce great matches. Unlike last week in Chicago, they had the crowd behind them this time and flourished in the extreme environment. Sheamus pulling out the victory doesn't surprise me, but part of me wishes that this should have been saved for WrestleMania instead since both competitors will probably be thrown into the battle royal.
The Undertaker and Paul Heyman
Heyman cut another great promo as always on the importance of The Streak while Undertaker's response was kept short, sweet and ominous. Brock Lesnar can't really speak for himself on the mic, so having Heyman do all the mic work for him is a smart move. This felt overshadowed by everything else on the show, but it was still a solid segment. By the way, what was Undertaker's announcement supposed to be?
Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. The Shield
These two teams never disappoint in the ring and their latest match together was proof of that. Of course, the focus was more on The Shield than it was on the Rhodes brothers, but the in-ring action entertained and it was a nice, clean win for The Shield. All signs of them splitting seem to have ceased for now, which leads me to think that we'll be seeing them team up one last time at WrestleMania before parting ways.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio
I groaned upon seeing this match on the lineup for SmackDown since we've seen them face off at least a hundred times in the last year, but there's no denying that their matches are always enjoyable. They delivered down the stretch and Ziggler winning clean was a pleasant surprise. I'm still not convinced WWE will do anything meaningful with him going into 'Mania, but seeing is believing.
This Week's Low Points
Dean Ambrose vs. Mark Henry
It was a decent enough match and I'm glad Ambrose defended his United States Championship for once, but I was bored by the bout for a majority of it. I don't want to say WWE has "buried" Henry in recent months, but they haven't done anything notable with him to the point where he's no longer a threat to whoever he faces. I realize he's in the twilight of his career, but I'd rather see WWE make the most of him and his talent before he inevitably retires.
The Ascension vs. Travis Tyler and Cal Bishop
Newer viewers of NXT may not have been annoyed by this, but longtime viewers definitely were. We've seen The Ascension face a pair of local athletes countless times in the last two years and all of them are exactly the same. I, personally, am a fan of The Ascension act and also found it hilarious the way the live crowd reacted to them during this match, but NXT is in need of an actual tag team division and fast.
Bo Dallas vs. Colin Cassady
Dallas can have great matches when facing the right opponent, but Cassady just wasn't that guy. The match wasn't terrible by any means, but it felt like it dragged on for far too long. Cassady still isn't competent enough in the ring to hold his own and constantly having him lose matches isn't helping his credibility at all. If nothing else, it was a good, clean win for Dallas as he prepares to face Adrian Neville in a rematch for the NXT Championship.
Ryback and Curtis Axel vs. Los Matadores
While I enjoyed WWE Main Event as a whole this past week, this match did absolutely nothing for me. Los Matadores are a joke of an act and it's hard to take them seriously in the ring, even though their in-ring skills are quite good. I just find it funny that Ryback went from headlining pay-per-views for the WWE Championship last spring to jobbing out to Los Matadores less than a year later. Poor guy.
Big Show vs. Kane
In no way, shape or form should Big Show vs. Kane be headlining an episode of SmackDown in the year 2014. The match was atrocious, but it was thankfully kept to only five minutes. The only intriguing part about this match was The Shield walking out on Kane, which sets them up as anti-heroes going into a possible match against The Authority of some kind at WrestleMania.
Big E vs. Fandango
I realize both Big E and Fandango are floundering at the moment, but putting them against each other for the millionth time is not the answer. The match itself was a complete squash and a waste of time. Like Ryback, it's funny to think Fandango was actually relevant a year ago and facing Chris Jericho of all people. As for Big E, I'd rather see him defending his Intercontinental Championship on the grand stage as opposed to being involved in a battle royal where he'll be easily overshadowed.
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Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website at Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.